Then and Now
March 16, 1999
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by Tom McGehee
In 1905 a photographer captured this view of number 962 Government Street and its neighbors to the east. This is the street’s north side in the long block between Broad and Common.
The house with the handsome Chippendale railings belonged to George Monk, Jr. whose Dauphin Street furniture emporium billed itself as “The Store with the Stock.” Business was apparently good for Mr. Monk and his daughter Katherine would lead Mobile’s Carnival in 1916 as its Queen.
The impressive home to the east is the residence of famed author Augusta Evans Wilson who had moved here in 1896 from her beloved “Ashland” which would become the city’s second planned subdivision.
Just in view beyond “Miss ‘Gusta’s” is the home of Captain Albert Cary Danner who presided over Mobile Coal Company. His daughter Venetia had the honor of reigning over Mobile’s 1903 Mardi Gras celebration.
The corner of number 964 Government is just visible in this photograph to the left of the Monk house. Ernest Wagar, a lumber merchant and president of Alabama Fruit Company will soon enlarge the cottage into a Colonial Revival showplace.
This block of Government Street has not fared well with the century. Captain Danner’s home has been replaced with a parking lot for the Antoinette Apartments which replaced Mrs. Wilson’s former abode in 1911.
The Wagar house began a happy thirty-year stint as the residence of Dr. George Oswalt and his family in 1927 but was eventually destroyed and replaced with a now abandoned Burger King location.
Only the Monk house survives. It was given a snappy face-lift in 1960 and dubbed the “Royal-McBee Building/” That entity having long ago disappeared the structure has somehow survived beneath its unsympathetic facade with a long string of tenants and lengthy vacant periods.
Photo credit: University of South Alabama Archives